WEIGHING THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF HATE SPEECH AND PORNOGRAPHY BANS
The primary purpose of the survey of the costs and benefits of broad hate speech and pornography bans has been to give readers sufficient information to draw their own conclusions about the wisdom of such regulations, including whether doctrine should be modified to permit such speech suppression. Although I have strived to be fair and objective, I of course have my own views on the various arguments for and against banning hate speech and pornography, some of which I have expressed along the way. Here I want to both summarize these views and offer some over- all conclusions.
With respect to hate speech bans, my firmest conclusion is that the stakes are not nearly so high as many of the proponents and opponents of such bans claim. If there were strong reasons to believe that racist propaganda is a major cause of violence and discrimination against minorities in this country, and if modifying doctrine to permit the suppression of this speech would likely have a disastrous effect on free speech, we might have to make some hard choices. Fortunately, we are not faced with such a dilemma. There is no evidence that outlawing hate speech will significantly reduce violence and discrimination against minorities. Indeed, it is doubtful that hard-core racist propaganda significantly contributes to the formation or perpetuation of racist beliefs in this country. The primary responsibility for such beliefs lies with much more subtle influences, such